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Old March 24, 2012, 12:06 AM   #1
Once Fired
Join Date: October 26, 2011
Location: Texas
Posts: 62
Workbench setup recommendations

Hi all

I'm finally ready to take the plunge and start reloading. I have space in the garage for a workbench, and plan to get going here shortly.

I thought I'd ask for simple recommendations on how to put the bench together ahead of time that might save me some headaches down the road.

I'm thinking about...
  • ergonomics - any preferences out there on standing, barstool, or sitting in a chair while you reload in bulk?
  • material - is 3/4" plywood and 2x4 ok, or should I be going something heavier? I'm thinking the press needs something truly solid on the edge, but a simple replaceable top surface for the long term. What about something less permeable?
  • cabinets or no? Most benches I have seen have nowhere to store the components. My kids I'm not worried about - they get safety and know the drill. But keeping the neighbor kids who come over out of my reload supplies is a focus. Any storage concerns being in a non-ventilated cabinet?
  • static - I imagine lots of storage containers will be plastic. Do I need to put down a rubber mat on the work surface or floor as anti-static?
  • lighting - garage only has two outlets in the wall quite far from where the bench has to go. The overhead fluorescent light is terrible. I will have to either put another light on the ceiling, or run an extension cord along the baseboard. To minimize heat, I was thinking of LED lights.
  • area - how big of an area do you actually use? I'm thinking for reload activity (pistol, rifle, shotgun) but also cleaning, etc. I doubt I'd be making my own bullets.

I want to build this once well, and be able to take it with me when we move. All opinions welcome and appreciated, because Lowe's is my next stop for building materials. Small smile already on my face.

Then I get to go to the gun store. Big smile not yet visible, but I feel it starting. hahahhah

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Old March 24, 2012, 10:13 AM   #2
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A search of this forum brought this up. You'll get an idea of what others have done.
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Old March 24, 2012, 10:15 AM   #3
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hERE IS A START ON YOUR BASIC WORK BENCH I just priced it out for materials and the wood will be just under a 100.00 with adding nicer plywood for the upper and putting a sheet of 1/4" masonite on the top of the bench, over a sheet of 3/4 CDX, very durable and can be removed as needed when it gets damaged. Also going to use CDX for the bench top and lower shelf, cheaper.
I have questions on hight too, I think I am going kitchen counter hight or a bit lower, so I can sit on an adjustable stool or stand at it. I like my face low when using a press for rifle or pistol loading. Obviously you can make this bench bigger. I am going to route in grooves for T head bolts for the powder measure and other light things you bolt down but may want to move out of the way for other work. I would suggest after you build what ever size you do, to just sit at it a while and do some mental lay out thoghts on where you would want the equiptment.
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Old March 24, 2012, 08:25 PM   #4
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I have had to reload in about eight different locations over the years. Lots of comments about strength, etc will be made, but I have used everything from a 1 x 12 to the maple top from a bowling alley. My last before now was a 3' X 6' folding conference table. My present setup, for which I have very limited space, is an old oak drafting table. All will do, some a little better than others.

Things I consider absolutely necessary:
1. Shelves not attached to the bench.
2. A smooth top.
3. Not so deep that you use it to accumulate junk.
4. A shelf across the bottom to store your bullets on because the weight will lend stability.

You will probably end up with your scale on a shelf at about eye level. If the shelf is attached to the bench, everytime you cycle the press your scale will jiggle around and probably lose its zero. Same if the scale is setting on the bench top.
A smooth top is necessary so that you don't accumulate powder, dirt etc. My present drafting table came with a mat that just lays on top and is smooth on top. It is very good.
If your bench is too deep you will put everything you MIGHT use on it, and pretty soon run out of space to work.
You pretty much have to just utilize the space you have available, to the best you can.

I have also found that a Luxo Lamp, or equivalent, is excellent for your reloading area, as you can put it exactly where you need it. The center magnifier comes in very handy also. It is the only light I have in a rather dark garage.
Attached is a photo of my current setup which meets all the above except #3.
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Old March 24, 2012, 08:39 PM   #5
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To each there own, but I repurposed a rolling island for my reloading bench. It has plenty storage, thick top for mounting a press and a wide surface area.
I really lucked up on it since a friend of my wife was moving.
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Old March 24, 2012, 09:32 PM   #6
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What we can't show our bench again? Besides by the time he gets through the 18 pages of posts, he will be an old man. (LOL)


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Old March 25, 2012, 09:18 AM   #7
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-It should be substantial enough to support a car.
-It should be anchored to the earth's core.
-It should be at a height suitable for sitting if volume production is anticipated.
-Its top should be carpeted.
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Old March 25, 2012, 12:53 PM   #8
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My neighbor and I were shooting the breeze a while back. Seems an old machinist he worked with said the ideal workbench height could be found by making a fist and tucking it under your chin. Holding your forearm vertical, the bench height should be level with your bent elbow. Went out to my shed and checked my bench while sitting on the stool. Dang, I'm probably within 1/4" using this formula. I find it quite comfortable for extended reloading sessions.
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Old March 25, 2012, 01:14 PM   #9
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Think about the processes that will be performed, and imagine yourself moving through the space you have allocated. Try to figure out how to optimize the bench, and your position at it.

I've been working on a new bench for a while, and have spent dozens of hours planning the thing (even though it will be built from scrap lumber).
To me, efficiency is very important.

But... my basic set up includes only the following requirements:
24" bar stool (I sit while reloading)
35-36" bench height (comfortable while sitting, but still useful when standing)
decent lighting (who likes working in the dark?)
lower shelves (so I can store supplies, and weigh the bench down)
Just enough room for my press, scale, a bowl of powder (for trickling), and a load block.
To do that, I need a bench surface that's about 24" wide, by 18" deep. Anything more is just a nice bonus.

I do prefer locking up powder, primers, and loaded ammo; but don't really care about dies, brass, and bullets. My solution, however, is a locking door knob on the closet I use for storage (and another on the reloading room door).

Avoid mounting fluorescent lights close to your bench. Some scales can be influenced by the ballasts in the fixtures.

Everyone has their own idea of how strong a bench should be. Mine? Well... the right hand leg is a 1-3/4" solid-core door. But... The primary bench is a 1-3/4" solid-core door, with 2 layers of 3/4" plywood on top . Even by my standards, that's overkill.... but it's strong and stable.
The odd section sticking out the left side was designed into the bench so I would have an easy place to clamp something to the bench, should the need arise.

The future:

This bench includes its own lighting, has 6 planned outlets (4 switched), and has under-bench lighting (not shown).
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File Type: jpg bench_model5_stage10_800.jpg (143.4 KB, 464 views)
File Type: jpg bench_model2_stage8_800.jpg (110.1 KB, 393 views)
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Old March 25, 2012, 01:45 PM   #10
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My reloading bench is next to a file cabinet.
So i use those new high strength magnets to attach tools to the side of the metal file cabinet. It works great ! No nails, hooks, .......
I have over a dozen tools attached - instantly available.
Try it you'll like it.

Have fun experimenting JD
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Old March 26, 2012, 07:40 AM   #11
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My bench is very similar to FrankenMauser's. The L shaped table top enables you to access most everything you will be using without repositioning your swivel stool or chair. No arms on the chair.

Two of the most important things about your work surface is that it must be dead center level and rock solid. Get it absolutely level, using shims if necessary and then screw it into the wall studs behind the bench. Put it together with screws, not nails.
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Old March 26, 2012, 12:11 PM   #12
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My basic table was built from a 30" high welding table. I had to replace the top with 3/8"x 3' x 6' steel plate. Then I laminated some formica on it. It was a good place to start. I also got some nice metal cabinets at the same time as the table. A welding shop was going out of business.
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Old March 26, 2012, 12:23 PM   #13
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I would start ...with a good bar stool - to sit on ...for height...

3/4" plywood will flex way too much ..../ maybe if you double it up ...and reverse the orientation of one sheet vs the other will be ok. A bench made up of 2 X 6's better ../ with a good frame ...double up the 2 X 6's for legs...cover the top with some "hard board" or some kind of counter laminate...

For light ...a good Halogen desk lamp / with a adjustable neck a drafting lamp works pretty well. There is no such thing as too much light. But you'll need decent overall light as well as the Halogen.

Think about the overall height of a metallic loader...especially if you put a case feeder on it at some point.

Check with your state or local fire codes on storing powder, primers ..and quantities that you may be restricted to.
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Old March 26, 2012, 05:57 PM   #14
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I was very lucky, my wife surprised me with a workbench for Sears, it came with a locking cabinet and a roll away drawer unit. It has plenty of room, I bought some cheap plastic shelfs at Wal-Mart to store brass and other components. I work arraign in my basement. I had a thick rubber bed mat out of my last pick-up I cut in to fit under the bench and to stand on. I have plenty of light with a overhead light and a sewing light my wife was throwing out I modified it to fit the bench for more direct light to the press. Your bench next to be solid and not roll forward when you pull the press handle. My bench in used for reloading and my cleaning my guns. When my grand kids visit I put my powers in a old foot locker, I trust my grand kids butt think it is safer to be safe.
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Old March 26, 2012, 06:01 PM   #15
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Here is my setup. I like plenty of table top space for everything.

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Old March 26, 2012, 06:38 PM   #16
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I decided to go with a completely different design.

The top is made from a salvaged wooden spool from work. It's about 34" across. I used liquid nails and screws to attach the two plywood circles to make an extra heavy top (1 1/4") The frame is white pine 2X4s. I put locking casters on it so it would be moveable. There are two GFCI outlets mounted on top, with a cord that hangs underneath. I keep bullets and some extra loaded rounds in the cans underneath to add weight. The tool box holds my turrents, dies, scale and powder measure.

Eventually I will add another press or two on different sides and I'll be able to turn the table to use the one I need.

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Old March 27, 2012, 02:52 AM   #17
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Holy schematics, Batman!

Hey all

This response is nothing short of jaw dropping! Thank you so much for all of the ideas! You'd think from the enthusiastic response that you guys like reloading or something?!?!

I'm going to take a bit to go through all this, and come back with a battle plan.

Thanks again!
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Old March 27, 2012, 10:12 AM   #18
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reloading bench

I built this bench 20 years ago, its very solid setting freestanding.

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Old March 28, 2012, 03:52 PM   #19
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Here is what I'm using for my reloading bench. It's my welding bench that I bolted to the foundation wall. Made of all steel, it has NO flex or give at all. There's enough room to work on, it's never going to catch on fire, and you could probably put a ton (quite literally) of bullets and other gear on it without an issue...

To the right is my ammo shelf. It too is steel with plywood back, sides, and doors. This pic is from before I put the doors on it. I am going to upgrade the doors and put locks on them when it gets nice enough outside again. I have rearranged it so that reloading supplies and equipment are now also on one of these shelves.

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pistol reload , reload bench , reloading , rifle reload , shotgun reload

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